Category Archives: health

Strawberry Fields

This foolish essay about berries that mean love to me is only partly inspired by the Beatles song, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” That’s because, of course, their song was only about meditating. In the lyrics they take you to the “Strawberry Fields where nothing is real… but it’s nothing to get hung up about…” They are talking about a blissful place of no worries where we all need to go. And then staying there forever.

This, of course, I could never do. Worrying about the future is tattooed on my behavioral imperatives in the dark part of my stupid old brain. And while I often found that place of no worries, and lingered there for a bit, I found you could never really get anything done if you stayed in that state of strawberry fields forever.

But don’t get me wrong, strawberries are a critical part of every healthy mental diet.

You see, my meditations on strawberries when I was a child of eight, nine, and ten centered on the strawberry patch at Great Grandma Hinckley’s place.

She was, as I incorrectly recall, slightly older than Jesus when I was that age. By that I mean, though she seemed museum-quality ancient to me, I had derived wisdom about life, love, and laughter from her before Sunday School taught me any of those things said in Jesus’s words.

And I was given the task of mowing her lawn in the little plot of land surrounding her little, tiny house in the Northern part of Rowan where I also lived and grew and celebrated Christmas and Halloween and Easter and the 4th of July. And though I was doing it because she was so old, I never even once thought she was too old and frail to do it herself. Grandma Hinckley’s willpower was a force of nature that could even quell tornados… well, I thought so anyway when I was eight. And she gave me a dollar every time I did the lawnmowing.

But there were other things she wanted done, and other things she wanted to teach me. There was the garden out back with the strawberry patch next to it. She wanted me to help with keeping the weeds and the saw grass and the creeping Charlie from overrunning the strawberries and choking them to death. (Creeping Charlie wasn’t an evil neighbor, by the way. He was a little round-leafed weed that grew so profusely that it prevented other plants from getting any sunlight on their own leaves, causing a withering, yellowing death by sunlight deprivation. I took my trowel to them and treated them like murderers. I showed them no mercy.)

And Grandma always reminded me not to be selfish and eat the very berries I was tending in the garden. She taught me that eating green strawberries (which are actually more yellow than green, but you know what I mean) was bad because they could give you a belly ache, a fact that that I proved to myself more than once (because eight-year-olds are stupid and learn slowly.) She also taught me that it is better to wait until you have enough strawberries to make a pie, or better yet, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream. She taught me that delayed gratification was more rewarding in the long run than being greedy in the short run and spoiling everything for everybody.

She always gave me a few of the ripe strawberries every time I helped her with them, even if I had eaten a few in the garden without permission. Strawberries were the fruit of true love. I know this because it says so in the strawberry picture. Even though I probably never figured out what true love really means.

My Great Grandma Nellie Hinckley was the foundation stone that my mother’s side of the family was built on. She was the rock that held us steadily in place during the thunderstorms, and the matriarch of the entire clan of Hinckleys and Aldriches and Beyers and other cousins by the dozens and grandchildren and great grandchildren and even great great grandchildren. I painted the picture of her in 1980 when she passed away. I gave it to my Grandma Aldrich, her second-eldest daughter. It spent three decades in Grandma’s upstairs closet because looking at it made Grandma too sad to be so long without her. The great grandchild in the picture with her is now a grandmother herself (though no one who has seen this picture knows who it is supposed to be because I painted her solely from memory and got it all wrong.) But Grandma Hinckley taught me what true love means. And true love has everything to do with how you go about taking care of the strawberry patch.

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Slightly Feverish

An infinite number of monkeys with and infinite number of word-processors will supposedly eventually type out everything I have ever written and everything I am going to write… As well as everything I will ever write with a random word misspelled or replaced with the wrong word. It would be an infinite mess. After all, infinite monkeys and infinite word-processors would fill infinite space and leave no room for infinite bananas. The monkeys would all starve after the initial typed manuscripts are completed, and any surviving monkeys that randomly evolved an ability to eat word-processors would die from exposure to infinite rotting monkey corpses. The whole thing gets gruesome after a while.

But let’s get serious for a moment. (Something that is generally difficult for Mickey.) Monkeys with type-writers will not solve my essential problem. I will not run out of stories before I run out of time for story-telling. And I find it totally creditable that my time is almost gone.

I am ill again, with a viral infection that gives me headaches, low-grade fever, and a wicked cough. I feel horrible. I had chest pains last night that led to a serious debate yet again. If it had been a heart attack, that would’ve been the end. I cannot survive economically another hospital bill. So, I have to go on the theory that since the last heart-attack scare was only arthritis in the ribs and the strange effect that has on EKGs, this one must also be the same. I can’t afford any other conclusion. And since I am still alive to write this, it was obviously the correct conclusion to draw.

The titles I have listed above, still in my stupid old head, are eleven more books I will add to my growing list. This is, of course, entirely dependent on how much longer I have before the darkness claims me for all time. I have writing to do. No more days off. And if I get five more years of two books a year, I just might make it. But last night convinced me that the effort may end at any time. So, though I am sick, I better get busy and write something.

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Filed under health, illness, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney

Wrapped in Sunshine

Wrapped in sunshine, things are always better.

Artificial light simply does not compare.

Nudists like me are happiest when the only clothing we are wearing is sunshine.

Kids are prone to love being naked outdoors,

But they do tend to think what their parents teach them to think.

And their parents usually think nudists are dangerous…

Or just plain crazy.

But Sunshine can be an idea. What we former English teachers call a metaphor.

Today’s Lesson on the first day of Kindergarten… because Mickey is in his second childhood.

Having sunshine in your mind is a way of thinking that can benefit you better than you know.

Sunshine in your mind can simply be happy thoughts. And, remember, happy thoughts could make Peter Pan fly!

So, wrap yourself in Sunshine… And light up the world!

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Filed under battling depression, foolishness, goofy thoughts, healing, health, philosophy, poetry

Debussy Reverie

Some Sunday thoughts require the right music.

Some Sunday thoughts actually are music.

rev·er·ie

/ˈrev(ə)rē/

noun

  • 1.a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream:”a knock on the door broke her reverie

Powered by Oxford Dictionaries

I had originally thought to call this post “A Walk with God.” But that would probably offend my Christian friends and alienate my Jehovah’s Witness wife. It would bother my intellectual atheist friends too. Because they know I claim to be a Christian Existentialist, in other words, “an atheist who believes in God.” Agnostics are agnostics because they literally know they don’t know what is true and what is merely made up by men. And not knowing offends most people in the Western world.

But Debussy’s Reverie is a quiet walk in the sacred woods, the forest of as-yet-uncovered truths.

And that is what I need today. A quiet walk in the woods… when no literal woods are available.

I have apparently survived the Covid pandemic. But this pandemic has been hard on me. Having had the Omicron variant, I am left without the strength I once had even though I am fully vaccinated. I have lost the power to be a substitute teacher, a job I love. The loss of the ability to teach in any form still drives me to tears. I am a prisoner in my room at home most days. My soul is in darkness, knowing that the end could be right around the corner. There is so much left to do, to say, to write down for those who come after so they can fail to read any of it and reinforce the cruel irony that informs the universe. I have stories and lessons and morals and meanings to give the world still if only someone is willing to listen.

I am not afraid to die. I have no regrets. But I have been in a reverie about what has been in the past, what might have been, and what yet may be… if only I am granted the time.

And, as always, I feel like I have more writing yet to do. I am about to finish The Education of PoppenSparkle. And I have started He Rose on a Golden Wing, The Haunted Toystore, and AeroQuest 5. And I have stories beyond that to complete if I may.

But the most important thing right now is having time to think. Time for Reverie. And reflections upon the great symphony of life as it continues to play on… with or without me.

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Don’t Give Up!

Yes, I am philosophically a pessimist. I expect always that the worst outcome is the one I will have to live with. Hence, I was not as devastated by Donald Trump’s election as some who were too confident that Hilkary would win. And the climate crisis seems to be good reason to prepare for the worst that can happen. Some of it is already happening, already here.

But you really should listen to what this career futurist has to say about it.

The near future is, as documented with evidence in the video, far worse than we think it is. “Just doom, nothing else,” as Robin Williams declares. But too much pessimism at this point is the death of us. We have to keep trying. We can’t just give up.

A cheerleader who is not me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not the right person to be elected head cheerleader on this issue. I have given in to despair and weeping on more than one occasion already. Since the election of Trump, the conservative pillaging of the Supreme Court, the roll-back of EPA guidelines and restrictions, the erosion of fundamental voting rights (soon to be followed by other rights,) the mismanagement of the economy, the Covid crisis, wildfires in the West, the insurrection after the election of Joe Biden, and more and more things that signal doom and possible Armaggedon, we have to battle the urge to lie down and die.

Here is where the optimism of the Reverand Peale is critical.

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, also definitely not me.

If we stop trying, our loss and subsequent death is insured. It is only by continuing to fight that we will have a chance to save ourselves. And this is beginning to happen everywhere.

In 2020 we turned out against the Evil-Clown President in record numbers. We wrested the control of the government out of the hands of the corrupt elephants and put it back in the hands of the hard-working but mostly stupid jackasses. Biden’s donkey-like devotion to following through on the work that needs to be done got us through the rest of the pandemic, getting ourselves vaccinated and acclimated to life with the reality of the new deadly virus.

We need, like the faun, to be one with our environment.

We have tried hard and kept at it to achieve much-needed climate-control legislation. The fossil-fuel industry has made it difficult, and we nearly gave up on the Build Back Better program, but it seems through perseverance that we may have finally gotten a critical piece of that over the hurdles after all.

One thing definitely indicated is that we will need to turn out to vote in the midterm elections again this year. If we don’t, the elitist elefantiasis party will take away all our gains and punish us again, playing their golden fiddles while the world burns.

We will never have the magic we need if we don’t try to conjure it.

But despair is still not warranted here. We know what we can do to solve the problems that face us. We have done similar things before, with the Cold War, World War II, and the hole in the ozone layer in the 1980s. What’s more we have the tools we need already, and what we don’t have is quickly being developed. There are plans in the works for mountain-sized storage batteries, massive solar-power arrays, and wind farms (many of which are already built and operating.) We can rebuild and upgrade the entire power grid, not just in the USA, but for the whole world. It needs, of course, to all be weather-proofed, meteor-proofed, solar-storm-proofed, and, hopefully, greedy-Republican-idiot-proofed.

We are not beaten if we don’t give up.

And as the futurist tells us in the video you didn’t watch, pessimists prepare us for disaster, but only the optimist can make us successful in living through it to a brighter future beyond.

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Followed by a Moon Shadow

Moonshadow by Cat Stevens

I first heard this song as a freshman in coll20160424_181349ege.  It struck me that it was hauntingly beautiful… but maybe I wasn’t entirely sure what it meant.

The song is about losing body parts and being okay with that.

That can actually be kinda creepy, right?

It is probably a song about gradually dying.

But that’s not really what it’s about.

I am there now.  Peeling, cracking, drying out… my life has reached the downhill run toward the finish line.  But I am not worried and not afraid.  Life is so much more than hands and eyes and legs and feet.  I can lose those things and have no regrets.  I am so much more than merely the sum of those physical things.

My spirit soars.  And my life is bound up in words and meanings that are now written down, and are at least as imperishable as paper.  And may, in fact, be written on a few human hearts here and there.

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Free to Be Naked

I managed to finally return to Bluebonnet Nudist Park on Saturday. It was a Memorial Day weekend crowd, so I got to meet a lot of naked people. Of course, I only saw one kid the whole time I was there, and he looked to be high-school-aged. So, don’t let the first picture in this post fool you. Most nudists at the park were closer to my age than the girls in the picture.

But it was freeing of spirit to actually gather around a swimming pool and have an all-you-can-eat hot-dog lunch with 50-plus other naked people. I can’t explain why that strange alchemy can work. But it does.

Having been around nudists at different times for the majority of my life, I can honestly say I have observed nudists to be happier people than the rest of us. Of course, that is a generalization, and not true of every individual nudist. But they are comfortable in their own skin and connected to the natural world the way most of us are not. I found that most of these people knew they were nudists since childhood. Like me, if their families did not already embrace being nudists, they sneaked off to the woods when they could to get naked in nature.

Am I alone in thinking that this is not a mental aberration, but rather, a natural instinct that was trained out of us (or in my case, almost trained out of us,) in childhood?

I don’t have any pictures from the nudist park to post, so I use the usual collection of innocent-seeming illustrations and pictures to add a sense of beauty and youthfulness to the idea of going to a nudist park for recreation. You know its not really the way the pictures show it. I am not the exhibitionist-sort of nudist whose whole desire is to be seen by the world naked. I, for the most part, am a solitary nudist. Not too proud of my lumpy, wrinkled, and sore-covered carcass so that I am obsessed with others seeing me, but also not ashamed of my corporeal self to the point of not allowing myself to be seen nude by other like-minded nude people. Most of my nudism occurs when I am alone in private places where only peeping Toms and computer-camera hackers can see me. I am, however, proud that I have now been to Bluebonnet twice and have a membership in AANR (American Association for Nude Recreation.)

While I was there, a journalist who writes books on American culture used in sociology research at the college level, was there taking pictures and interviewing folks. He spoke to us, confessing that it was the first time speaking to a group of naked people, and also his first time speaking to a group while naked. He explained that he was recording and documenting interesting and important social organizations in an area only 100 miles wide, but stretching from the Mexican border to the Canadian border through the middle of the US. He felt that there were important things to learn about American life from the Bluebonnet Nudist Park just as there were to learn from the Dallas Police Department which he had scheduled for the upcoming week (and he specified he would be wearing clothes for that next part.) Even though I was there for his research, I did not get asked to sign any consent forms for photographs or interviews, so I will not be in that book of his in any way.

I am definitely more confident now in identifying myself as a nudist. I never embraced the idea of actually being one while I was a school teacher in Texas. Texans are suspicious of even letting a Democrat be a public school teacher, let alone someone who purposely goes to a public place with no pants on. I know I have lost Twitter followers and Facebook friends who found out I was actually a nudist. And I feel like I may have lost some of my WordPress followers over it as well. They can’t take seriously someone who walks around with no clothes on.

But my answer to that is… Who in the heck takes Mickey seriously anyway? Get real!

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Mickey, What is all the Nudity About?

“Why are you asking, Mickey? You are only talking to yourself, you know.”

“It’s important to make it clear. Some people think you are a pervert, a creep, or possibly a pornographer because you draw naked people so often and feature nudity at some point in almost every story you tell.”

“Like most people who think of themselves as nudists, I really liked being naked as a child. But that is not socially acceptable in Iowa in the 60’s. Prudish notions chastise you for being naked where anyone can see. You get shamed to the point that you see your own naked self as something detestable and bad.”

“But that kind of social rule is a good thing. It keeps you from having to see naked and nude ugly people or wrinkled old people naked in places like the grocery store or public school buildings.”

“But wouldn’t it be better if we lived in a more open and honest sort of society where even ugly people being naked is acceptable so that no one has to be ashamed of having a human body?”

“Of course not. You wouldn’t want to offend everyone by walking around naked everywhere you go.”

“I honestly think that if it were allowed to occur more often it would become something acceptable as natural and normal. And you know that I have an extra reason to think it would be good if children did not have to believe that being nude is somehow sinful, bad, and shameful. I was sexually assaulted when I was ten. It not only made me fearful of ever being naked, it nearly caused me to take my own life when I was seventeen. I went through a decade-worth of self-loathing and disgust with my own body that made showering after P.E. class a nightmare, romantic feelings towards girls something I felt the need to hurt myself for having, and a general belief that I was secretly a monster.”

“Wow! Your obsessions run deep.”

“And emotional scars become far more visible than the ones hidden under your clothing.”

“Is this next one a picture of you? It doesn’t look like you.”

“The model for this wasn’t me. And he was wearing a wet swimsuit. It only became about me when I added the faun’s horns and made him naked. It was painted after I was exposed to naturists at the clothing-optional apartment building in Austin, Texas by my then-girlfriend and her sister who lived there with her husband and baby. It was a painting that expressed the joy I saw in people who were unafraid to be naked in the presence of others.”

“How long did he have to stand there like that while you painted it?”

“He didn’t. I painted it from the photo I took. Although, not only was he not naked, but he was Hispanic with black hair and a much browner complexion.”

“Did you tell anybody about the assault thing before you painted it?”

“I told my then-girlfriend. She sympathized somewhat. But she was already convinced that being naked was good for you, and so she didn’t fully accept my reluctance to be nude with the others.”

“I overcame feelings of self-loathing and fear of sexual feelings through, first, sex-education classes from the Methodist Minister when I was thirteen. Secondly, through discussions with my then-girlfriend and the nudist friends I made by visiting that naturist apartment building. And thirdly through the patience and love of my wife.”

“So, why are you still obsessed with it now, especially in your artwork?”

“Now I no longer have to worry about losing my teaching job because I am openly associated with naturists. And my sex-life is pretty much at an end for health reasons. So, it becomes a matter of expressing my memories and interior conflicts as they apply to nudity, sexuality, honesty, openness, and innocence. I can actually be a nudist now if I want to be.”

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Strawberry Fields

This foolish essay about berries that mean love to me is only partly inspired by the Beatles song, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” That’s because, of course, their song was only about meditating. In the lyrics they take you to the “Strawberry Fields where nothing is real… but it’s nothing to get hung up about…” They are talking about a blissful place of no worries where we all need to go. And then staying there forever.

This, of course, I could never do. Worrying about the future is tattooed on my behavioral imperatives in the dark part of my stupid old brain. And while I often found that place of no worries, and lingered there for a bit, I found you could never really get anything done if you stayed in that state of strawberry fields forever.

But don’t get me wrong, strawberries are a critical part of every healthy mental diet.

You see, my meditations on strawberries when I was a child of eight, nine, and ten centered on the strawberry patch at Great Grandma Hinckley’s place.

She was, as I incorrectly recall, slightly older than Jesus when I was that age. By that I mean, though she seemed museum-quality ancient to me, I had derived wisdom about life, love, and laughter from her before Sunday School taught me any of those things said in Jesus’s words.

And I was given the task of mowing her lawn in the little plot of land surrounding her little, tiny house in the Northern part of Rowan where I also lived and grew and celebrated Christmas and Halloween and Easter and the 4th of July. And though I was doing it because she was so old, I never even once thought she was too old and frail to do it herself. Grandma Hinckley’s willpower was a force of nature that could even quell tornados… well, I thought so anyway when I was eight. And she gave me a dollar every time I did the lawnmowing.

But there were other things she wanted done, and other things she wanted to teach me. There was the garden out back with the strawberry patch next to it. She wanted me to help with keeping the weeds and the saw grass and the creeping Charlie from overrunning the strawberries and choking them to death. (Creeping Charlie wasn’t an evil neighbor, by the way. He was a little round-leafed weed that grew so profusely that it prevented other plants from getting any sunlight on their own leaves, causing a withering, yellowing death by sunlight deprivation. I took my trowel to them and treated them like murderers. I showed them no mercy.)

And Grandma always reminded me not to be selfish and eat the very berries I was tending in the garden. She taught me that eating green strawberries (which are actually more yellow than green, but you know what I mean) was bad because they could give you a belly ache, a fact that that I proved to myself more than once (because eight-year-olds are stupid and learn slowly.) She also taught me that it is better to wait until you have enough strawberries to make a pie, or better yet, strawberry shortcake with whipped cream. She taught me that delayed gratification was more rewarding in the long run than being greedy in the short run and spoiling everything for everybody.

She always gave me a few of the ripe strawberries every time I helped her with them, even if I had eaten a few in the garden without permission. Strawberries were the fruit of true love. I know this because it says so in the strawberry picture. Even though I probably never figured out what true love really means.

My Great Grandma Nellie Hinckley was the foundation stone that my mother’s side of the family was built on. She was the rock that held us steadily in place during the thunderstorms, and the matriarch of the entire clan of Hinckleys and Aldriches and Beyers and other cousins by the dozens and grandchildren and great grandchildren and even great great grandchildren. I painted the picture of her in 1980 when she passed away. I gave it to my Grandma Aldrich, her second-eldest daughter. It spent three decades in Grandma’s upstairs closet because looking at it made Grandma too sad to be so long without her. The great grandchild in the picture with her is now a grandmother herself (though no one who has seen this picture knows who it is supposed to be because I painted her solely from memory and got it all wrong.) But Grandma Hinckley taught me what true love means. And true love has everything to do with how you go about taking care of the strawberry patch.

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Debussy Reverie

Some Sunday thoughts require the right music.

Some Sunday thoughts actually are music.

rev·er·ie

/ˈrev(ə)rē/

noun

  • 1.a state of being pleasantly lost in one’s thoughts; a daydream:”a knock on the door broke her reverie

Powered by Oxford Dictionaries

I had originally thought to call this post “A Walk with God.” But that would probably offend my Christian friends and alienate my Jehovah’s Witness wife. It would bother my intellectual atheist friends too. Because they know I claim to be a Christian Existentialist, in other words, “an atheist who believes in God.” Agnostics are agnostics because they literally know they don’t know what is true and what is merely made up by men. And not knowing offends most people in the Western world.

But Debussy’s Reverie is a quiet walk in the sacred woods, the forest of as-yet-uncovered truths.

And that is what I need today. A quiet walk in the woods… when no literal woods are available.

This pandemic has been hard on me. I am a prisoner in my room at home most days. My soul is in darkness, knowing that the end could be right around the corner. I am susceptible to the disease. It didn’t slay me on its first visit to the house, but that doesn’t mean it can’t get me on the second or third visit. Health experts are expecting a resurgence of up to 3,000 deaths per day before the end of the year. If I am relying on luck to avoid it, luck will run out.

I am not afraid to die. I have no regrets. But I have been in a reverie about what has been in the past, what might have been, and what yet may be… if only I am granted the time.

And, as always, I feel like I have writing yet to do. I am about to finish The Wizard in his Keep. And I have stories beyond that to complete if I may.

But the most important thing right now is having time to think. Time for Reverie. And reflections upon the great symphony of life as it continues to play on… with or without me.

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